Barack Obama: America’s attitudes to gay rights has been transformed over the past four years

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Speaking to Time Magazine reporters after he was named ‘Time Magazine Person of the Year’, US President Barack Obama has reflected on the transformation made to attitudes towards homosexuality in America.

“One of the things that I’m very proud of during my first four years is I think I’ve helped to solidify this incredibly rapid transformation in people’s attitudes around LGBT issues — how we think about gays and lesbians and transgender persons,” Mr Obama explains.

When the president came out for same-sex marriage in May 2012, he said: “You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

In his interview with Time Magazine, he reflected the role his daughter Malia played in his change of position in the issue. “A lot of that just has to do with the fact that if you talk to Malia, the idea of making an anti-gay remark at her school is just unimaginable

“They just don’t get that.”

Mr Obama’s position on same-sex marriage has ‘evolved’ over the years. In May in an interview with ABC he said: ” I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”

Asked about the cases pending in the Supreme Court to decide whether California’s Prop8 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, Mr Obama said: “We are looking at the cases right now. I’ve already been very clear about DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act], so there is no doubt that we would continue the position we’re on, that DOMA is unconstitutional and should be struck down. And I think the Prop-8 case, because the briefs are still being written, I should probably be careful about making any specific comments on it.”

Mr Obama believes the US has “steadily become a more diverse and tolerant country.”

“There’s been the occasional backlash, and this is not to argue that somehow racism or sexism or homophobia are going to be eliminated or ever will be eliminated,” he said. “It is to argue that our norms have changed in a way that prizes inclusion more than exclusion.”

Time asked Obama about the US Supreme Court agreeing to hear two marriage equality cases next year involving the Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and California’s Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage in that state.